Rugby League: Bell's switch opens door for Murray

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One of the top jobs in rugby league is vacant following Dean Bell's decision to stand aside as Leeds' coach.

Dave Hadfield fully expects a high-profile Australian to take over the reins.

Dean Bell's decision to switch domains at Headingley from the first team to youth development had a lot to do with job security.

Bell turned down the offer of an extended contract in his previous role. His new job carries a three-year contract, whereas the more precarious one of coach only carried the offer of an extra 12 months from the expiry of his current deal next April.

"While I will miss the intensity and weekly excitement of Super League matches, I have to admit that this position offers me stability," Bell said. Both he and the club stressed that the decision was his alone.

Bell, an outstanding player, notably for Wigan and Great Britain, had a difficult first season with Leeds only narrowly avoiding relegation. There was a marked improvement this time, although the club were disappointed at finishing fifth.

"Dean has done an excellent job and leaves a very different squad to the one he inherited," Gary Hetherington, Leeds' chief executive, said. "The changes in attitude, determination and hunger among the squad can be credited to him and his staff. We now have the proper foundation on which to build."

Although Hetherington said that the club was in no hurry to appoint a successor, the identity of the man to be entrusted with that building was a matter of immediate and wide-ranging speculation.

John Monie's name has been linked with Leeds for years, and he and Bell are close allies. The indications are, though, that when Monie returns to Britain it will be to take charge of one of the proposed new franchises.

Other suggestions are the former Bradford coach, Brian Smith, now with Parramatta, and the Great Britain coach, Andy Goodway, who was in charge at Paris last season, but would be available for a position at an English club for next year.

The likeliest to emerge as favourite, however, is the Hunter Mariners coach, Graham Murray, whose side meets Cronulla in the World Club Championship semi-final today.

Murray has impressed at both Illawarra and Hunter, but will be out of work when Hunter are scrapped as part of the peace deal between Super League and the Australian Rugby League.

Meanwhile, the turmoil continues at Hull, promoted to Super League for next season, but now losing their second chairman in a month.

Roy Waudby, who only resumed the chair in September, has resigned after what he described as a clash of personalities with the new chief executive, Mike Appleton.

Two other directors are considering their positions after being asked to resign by the club's owner, the tennis entrepreneur, David Lloyd, who also owns their neighbours, Hull City.